The Strokes have paved way since brushing the scene in 2001 with their instant garage pop classic, Is This It. What was an unlikely return a decade later, releasing Angles after a near five-year hiatus, the band evolved electronically. Undoubtedly influenced by frontman Julian Casablancas - following his solo synthpop debut, Phrazes for the Young, during the break - this synthesized sound showcased an appreciation for 80's new wave rock. The Strokes latest, Comedown Machine, takes that admiration to greater lengths.
Gone are the raw, crunchy tinges of a young band with nothing to lose. Recorded on home turf in NYC, at Electric Lady Studios, Comedown Machine finds The Strokes comfortable with both their roots and recent digital deeds. Casablancas even joined the group in the studio to record, a change from his former self-removed approach to the recording sessions for Angles. The result is a crisp, measured record, sonically spanning from early influences to shots at several aesthetic energies.
The first single, "All the Time", is primitive of their signature style. It's a simply crafted rock song devoid of sophomore wiles, instead powered by post-punk proficiency. The ensuing "One Way Trigger" opens like a tropic dance tune, backed by typical drum and bass strokes joined by a delicate falsetto. Pre-chorus, upon dropping into standard vocal range and omitting the sultry pecked keys, things begin to take shape. But it's the work of lead guitarist Nick Valensi that strikes balance succeeding the shrieking refrain. The precise build and subsequent impact of his solo reverberates the entire four-minute track.
"Welcome to Japan" is a provocative, stroll down the boulevard mantra that's both quirky and full of that attitude we've come to regard from one of modern rock's most idiosyncratic frontmen. It's a shining example (if stripped of its frills and eccentricities) of a song that could have landed on 2003's Room On Fire. So goes "Partners In Crime"; following a jarring guitar introduction, the track turns to a tantalizing tune resonant of their diverged work on 2005's First Impressions of Earth. As for the driving hit "Slow Animals", it rings like one gem of a B-side to the former Angles.
What could very well have been another solo endeavor by Casablancas has become the fifth Strokes album. Contributions from all five members lends the record a sundry, timeless feel. These guys have closed the doors of the NYC garages they burgeoned from, now flourishing in both contemporary and retro nuances. There's the good, there's some bad, but overall a dynamic sense that they're doing exactly what they should be. In the midst of an eighties resurgence, The Strokes resound in the right place, at the right time.
7.2 / 10
Posted Dec. 31, 2014, 10:22 a.m.
On Feb. 17, Kate Pierson of the B52s will release her debut solo album titled Guitars and Microphones. The record was produced by Tim Anderson and features Nick Valensi (The ...
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